The Link Between DNA and the Potency of Psychedelics in the Brain

DNA Helix

We’re living in a world where medical frontiers are being pushed further than ever before, and psychedelic research is one of the most captivating arenas. 

But hold on, not so fast. 

If you’ve ever wondered why your friend had a profound experience with psychedelic drugs while you just had a “meh” moment.

A recent study from the University of North Carolina might have an answer. 

It seems our DNA could play a crucial role in how potent these drugs are for each of us.

How Psychedelics and Our Brains Interact

Let’s get a bit nerdy for a second. Most psychedelics, like psilocybin (the magic in “magic mushrooms”), LSD, and mescaline, interact with something called the serotonin (5-HT2A) receptor in our brains. 

What does that mean? Think of this receptor as a kind of docking station where these drugs can attach themselves. 

Once they dock, a whole cascade of biochemical reactions is set into motion. 

And guess what? Our DNA contains the code for building these receptors. So naturally, a little genetic variability can make a big difference in how this “docking” process works.

A Deep Dive into the Research

Gavin Schmitz, the paper’s first author, and his team studied different gene variants responsible for coding the serotonin receptor. 

These variants were essentially different “flavors” of the receptor, and they were found at varying frequencies within the human population. 

Schmitz and his team looked at how these different receptors interacted with common psychedelic substances like psilocin, mescaline, 5-MeO-DMT, and LSD.

The team found something incredibly interesting. With certain combinations of the drug and the receptor, the potency of the drug varied significantly. 

For example, one specific type of receptor led to a three-fold increase in potency for 5-MeO-DMT. Another receptor showed a nine-fold increase in response to mescaline.

What Does This Mean for You and Me?

Clinical studies have showcased a variety of responses to psychedelic treatments. 

Some people report life-changing experiences, while others note little to no benefits. 

This new research indicates that our genes could play a role in this. 

Perhaps the difference between a transformative experience and a lacklustre one could be written right in our DNA.

However, Schmitz urges caution. The cellular-level findings may not directly predict how the whole brain reacts. 

In simpler terms, just because a drug is more potent at the cellular level doesn’t necessarily mean it will have a stronger or more beneficial effect in real-world use. 

But still, these findings open up a Pandora’s box of questions and potential avenues for future research.

How Personal Are Psychedelic Experiences?

Beyond the scientific jargon, think about the broader implications. 

Have you ever marveled at how one person can have a deeply transformative psychedelic experience while another might have a completely different reaction? 

It could very well be that our genes play a role in shaping these uniquely personal experiences.

Before we even thought of using these substances as potential medications, people venturing into the psychedelic world noticed the variation in experiences based on different settings and mental states. 

Now, it seems our genetic code could also be an important variable in the equation.

The Road Ahead

According to Schmitz, there’s a long journey of research ahead. 

This initial focus on the 5-HT2A receptor is just scratching the surface, and as science identifies more crucial elements, the depth of our understanding will only increase. 

Isn’t it amazing how the things we are born with, right down to our DNA, can influence something as profound as a psychedelic experience?

So, the next time you hear about someone’s transformative journey with psychedelics, consider that their genes might have given them a backstage pass to that experience. 

And as we tread cautiously but optimistically into this emerging realm of medicine, one thing becomes increasingly clear: when it comes to deeply personal experiences like these, our differences do matter. 

Isn’t it fascinating how much we still have to learn about ourselves? 

The human mind is a mystery, and as it turns out, the clues might just be nestled in our very genes.

Let us know in the comments below, and remember to catch me for some one-on-one time in our Facebook group and Discord channel.

As always.

Shine bright. Do good. Flow strong.

Asha ✨

4 thought on “The Link Between DNA and the Potency of Psychedelics in the Brain”

4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hi!
    Interesting reading but what do you suggest me to do? I, really need the “flow”.. 🙁 I once tried a adhd medicine called Attentin and in a day my mode change to wonting to do “everyting” and even meeting people to interact and the feeling of happiness occured! I had only 5 tablets and took 1 a instant mode change..I need help with this..where can i buy or order these the same substances? I had so high hopes to have found relief in the microdosing… Would be happy if i could hav hel ordering yhe same substance as in Attentin or the tablett itself!
    Hooping for help!

    • Asha Sultana
      8 June 2024 10:52


      We do not provide, supply or recommend any medication whatsoever. I can say that finding your flow is not about medication but about engaging in an activity that is equal in difficulty as it is in enjoyment and also something that changes our experience of time, meaning that we can engage in this activity for long periods of time without notice.

      Flow activities can be; surfing, gardening, public speaking, dancing, working with our hands, making/building something.

      This is the most sustainable and beneficial way to trigger your brain’s natural ability to experience a flow state.

      Let me know how this resonates with you.

      Asha ✨

  • Definitely something in this. I react COMPLETELY different to Truffles (they make me anxious and nervous and sleepy) than I do to mushrooms…which I benefit hugely from.

    • Asha Sultana
      8 June 2024 10:48

      Thanks for sharing Dexter!

      This is interesting feedback. So far, I’ve heard of people preferring truffles because they can be easier to microdose.

      I will take your experience into consideration moving forward!

      Asha ✨


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